2020 Season: Week 9 Boom/Bust (PPR)

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Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

Boom/Bust (or Love/Hate if you are the Talented Mr. Roto) is a fantasy football classic, but in case you are new to the game, here is the gist:

Every week, we will look at the FantasyPros ECR projected points, and pick a player at each position that we think will outperform their projections (boom), or fall short of expectations (bust), during Sunday's games. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The FantasyPros ECR projected points listed are those at the time of writing and may change as the week progresses.]

That is really all there is to it. Largely, this is based on match-ups, but we could potentially see a projection that seems flawed and factor that in as well. No need to re-invent the wheel on this one.

Week 9 Boom/Bust (PPR)

Week 9 Booms

Quarterback (QB)

CH: Matt Ryan (18.3 projected points)

I like this game for the QBs, but I'm leaning on the established veteran here. I understand the rationale behind playing Broncos QB Drew Lock, but I don't feel as though he's proven he can be penciled in even with the gimme matchup. The Broncos defense has allowed 21.1 per game to QBs this season and are on par with the Cleveland Browns in that department. Given the fact that Ryan is a known commodity with a tremendous arsenal of weapons at his disposal, give the Falcons' slinger a spot in your lineup. 

MM: Drew Lock (16.4 projected points)

Atlanta gives up an average of 25.6 points to QBs. That would be almost 10 points greater than Lock's projection. I told you to "lock" this one in earlier in the week, so this should not be a surprise to you. If it is though, click here for my take on Lock this week.

Running Back (RB)

CH: Jordan Howard (6.1 projected points)

I would imagine this number will go up on FantasyPros' projections with the news of RB Matt Breida being ruled out for Sunday's game against Arizona, but whatever it goes up to probably won't be a significantly high number given Howard's shocking lack of involvement in Miami this year. Knowing that RB Myles Gaskin is slated to miss time and Breida won't be suiting up, I'll take my chances with Howard over RB Patrick Laird or newly acquired RB DeAndre Washington. The Cardinals allow the 13th most half-PPR points to RBs and it's not like Jordan Howard is a bad running back. 

How he started the year was certainly bizarre, but he's only a little under a year removed from being the RB16 on a points per game basis. Sure, since that time he got hurt, lost the job in Philadelphia to RB Miles Sanders and has done nothing after being acquired by the Dolphins, but don't forget who we're talking about here. With a rookie QB under center, the Miami offense is certainly going to have to lean a touch on the run game and it's not like Howard at age 26 has all of a sudden forgotten how to play football. Should Howard be inactive like he has been on a weekly basis, give me Laird (4.4 projected points currently) over Washington but c'mon y'all; it's Jordan Howard.

MM: La'Mical Perine (8.3 projected points)

New England is significantly better against WRs than RBs, and it is not like the Jets should want QB Sam Darnold to throw the ball anyway. Perine is the only one of the two lead backs getting any passing down work, which should give him a little boost in points even though most teams prefer their RBs to run on the Pats than try and beat them in the passing game. Luckily Perine has also been getting around 50% of the touches and has established himself as the goal-line back in New York. Yes, Adam Gase is still the coach, so maybe this is all irrelevant, but logic dictates that Perine has a good chance to boom this week.

Wide Receiver (WR)

CH: John Brown (11.6 projected points) 

It hasn't exactly been an ideal year for the Bills wide receiver; heck, it hasn't been an ideal year for the Bills as a whole after the hot start they got off to. Through eight weeks, Brown sits at WR79 in PPR scoring behind such studs as Jets WR Braxton Berrios and Chargers WR Jalen Guyton. Between injuries and the overall regression of the Josh Allen-led passing offense, it's been tough to trust the WR who is now only 52.8% rostered on ESPN, but if there were any week to turn things around, it would be this one.

The Seattle Seahawks defense surrenders the most points to opposing WRs by a fair margin and this is the ultimate get-right game for Buffalo and Brown himself. While I'm already in the mood of reminding people of things that happened last year, let's not forget that Brown finished 2019 as the WR20 in PPR scoring ahead of a guy like Falcons WR Calvin Ridley. Don't hear what I'm not saying; Brown is not the Ridley to Stefon Diggs' Julio Jones, but sometimes you have to fall back on something you already know to be true. John Brown is usually an effective NFL wide receiver when healthy, and unless something changes between now and when I conclude the composition of this piece, Brown is healthy. Should this game against a beatable secondary prove to be just what the doctor ordered, you've got yourself a high-end WR3 going forward and a pretty solid one at that for Week 9's NFL action.

MM: Darnell Mooney (11.1 projected points)

If the Bears expect to win against Tennessee, they need to attack the Titans through the air. Luckily, they have some talented WRs to do exactly that, including Mooney, a criminally underrated rookie WR out of Tulane. QB play has an outsized impact on WR play (obviously), so having Nick Foles under center in Chicago has not been a big help to Mooney, but he does flash his talent when he gets the ball. Last week he put up almost 18 points on the Saints, a much better pass defense than the Titans, who give up more fantasy points to WRs than almost any other team. A similar performance this week would not shock me.

Tight End (TE)

CH: Evan Engram (9.9 projected points)

The landscape of the tight end position is never a particularly great one and the only way to figure out who to play week-to-week is finding someone who you either a.) expect to find the end zone based on a prime matchup or b.) like just enough because of their target volume to provide you a decent floor.

Engram is third-most targeted TE in the NFL this year and while he may not be efficient with the work that comes his way, at least he's getting looks. We've already seen Engram and the Giants face Washington, and while it did not go well for him (2 rec-30 yds, 0 TDs, 5 PPR points) I am willing to give it another go. I've made the pick and I stand by it, but I am hesitant  He's fooled me once, so shame on me, but if Engram fools me twice, you'd best believe I won't get fooled again. 

Albert Okuwuegbunam (5.2 projected points)

Drew Lock's college TE has been decent against tough opposition, with seven or more points in each of his three games since the bye. Atlanta is the worst team in the league against TEs, and Lock (my boom QB) will need to spread the ball around. I like a couple receptions and a possible TD in this game, which could see Okuwuegbunam double up on his current projection.

Defense/Special Teams (DST)

CH: Houston Texans (6.4 projected points)

This one feels like it could be a bit of a trap when you consider the Houston practice facility got shut down yesterday due to COVID-19, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling out rookie QB Jake Luton on Sunday. The Texans DST put up 9 points in Week 5 against QB Gardner Minshew II, so I can't imagine things would somehow be worse against a rookie signal-caller. I expect some mistakes to be made and a few sacks being sacked en route to a decent game for those looking to stream a DST.

MM: Indianapolis Colts (6.2 projected points)

I would have picked the Dolphins here, who I think beat expectations against Arizona this week, but I could not turn down the experts sleeping on the top fantasy DST through eight weeks. An average game would see them almost double this projection.

Kicker (K)

CH: Brandon McManus (7.4 projected points)

A kicker on a bad team going up against an almost equally bad team playing indoors? Yeah, I'm game. 

MM: Jason Sanders (7.0 projected points)

Sanders is my waiver pick this week at kicker, so it is only natural to have him here when he is projected as K21.

Week 9 Busts

Quarterback (QB)

CH: Ben Roethlisberger (18.4 projected points)

You're starting Big Ben against the Dallas Cowboys. You should be starting several Steelers players in this game. I choose Roethlisberger simply out of the possibility that Dallas is so terrible early on playing with a 4th string QB that things get out of hand to the point where the Steelers offense doesn't need to air it out to win this game. I am very comfortable with being wrong on this pick, but I'm also riding the fence here candidly. 

If I were to make a more bold prediction, I'm in line with Malcolm as far as how I think the game between the Cardinals and Dolphins could shake out and QB Kyler Murray being projected at 23.7 points feels bullish when you consider the caliber of defense he's going up against. Even with the rushing floor he provides, maybe lower that expectation a tad.

MM: Lamar Jackson (19.9 projected points)

Lamar Jackson has been a relatively boom or bust QB this year with four games with less than 18 points, and three games with 26 points or more. Once such bust game was last week against Pittsburgh where Jackson was QB17. Unfortunately, the Colts are an even tougher match-up as they are literally the toughest match-up in the league for QBs. He has value with his legs as we all know, so I cannot imagine many people are leaving him on the bench, but I expect a down week for the Baltimore QB.

Running Back (RB)

CH: Todd Gurley II (14.9 projected points)

A pick that will not set me up for a potential malpractice suit is Atlanta's Todd Gurley II. I've picked him before and with good reason; he's not the same guy he was a few years ago. The Denver run defense allows the fourth-fewest points in half-PPR to opposing RBs and RB Brian Hill has honestly shown more than Gurley II out of the backfield as of late. Last Thursday's game was probably the last time you could get away with starting Gurley II. He's done in my estimation.

MM: Alvin Kamara (22.3 projected points)

For the record, Kamara is still startable and will likely still score double-digit points. This is PPR after all. However, boom/bust is always relative to projections, and this projection is simply too high. Tampa Bay is one of the better teams against RBs in fantasy this year, and WRs Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will likely be back in the lineup. Also to consider: the Bucs are league average against TEs, so maybe a solid Jared Cook game is in the works. Again, not expecting disaster from Kamara, but if Thomas is back Kamara could fall a full 10 points short of this projection.

Wide Receiver (WR)

CH: Tyreek Hill (17.1 projected points) 

I'll gladly eat crow on this one if I'm wrong. I can't tell if Carolina's secondary is shockingly good or if the run defense is so bad that teams don't have to throw to beat them, but they've been pretty damn good against opposing WRs to date and Hill has yet to go over 100 yards receiving this season. Everyone already knows Hill is the embodiment of boom-or-bust and this week I'm going bust. 

MM: Tyler Lockett (17.8 projected points)

The Bills are a tough match-up for WRs, so something has to give between D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Metcalf's freakish athleticism gives him the edge for me, and while Tyler Lockett has been WR1 in PPR twice, he has also had three games with less than 10 fantasy points. Metcalf by comparison only has one. For me, that makes me confident that this will be a game where Lockett does not break through and falls well short of this projection.

Tight End (TE)

CH: Jonnu Smith (9.9 projected points)

In two games with both WRs Corey Davis and A.J. Brown healthy, Smith has basically devolved into a regular old NFL TE. Not looking at the matchup, not considering the talent, none of that. Tight end in fantasy football is based around opportunity and he's been seeing very little recently. It's a bummer to see because Smith is a tremendous athlete and has proven his worth before, but as the kids say, it do be like that sometimes.  

MM: Mark Andrews (13.4 projected points)

Went with a QB/TE tandem for boom, so why not for bust? Andrews rises and with Lamar, and two of the Ravens TE's best games (those with more than 6.2 PPR points) were also games where his QB performed above expectations. Plus Indianapolis is the best against fantasy TEs, so it is a terrible match-up for Andrews. This projection is way too high.

Defense/Special Teams (DST)

CH: Atlanta Falcons (7.5 projected points)

I mean, I'm still not playing QB Drew Lock, but c'mon. Denver still has the run game to score points, you know.

MM: Tennessee Titans (6.8 projected points)

I have concerns here because Nick Foles always throws an interception, but as I mentioned when talking about Bears WR Darnell Mooney, the Titans are exploitable against the pass. Given the talent at WR in Chicago and good coaching, an above-average performance from Foles could make for a long night in Nashville.

Kicker (K)

CH: Michael Badgley (8.6 projected points)

He's been alright but Badgley is only 12-16 on the year. If homeboy misses one it kind of tanks the whole thing.

MM: Matt Prater (8.5 projected points)

Either his team misses QB Matthew Stafford, who could miss this game on the COVID-reserve list, or Stafford plays and they torch the awful Vikings defense. Either way, I sense this being a game where Prater comes out to kick an extra point rather than a field goal.

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